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COVID In New Jersey: Gov. Murphy To Limit Outdoor Gatherings To 25 People, Indoor High School, Youth Sports Suspended Until 2021

TRENTON, N.J. (CBS) -- New Jersey is retightening restrictions as coronavirus cases continue to surge across the state. Gov. Phil Murphy announced Monday a crackdown on outdoor gatherings that has not been seen since the beginning of the pandemic.

"Effective 6 a.m. Monday, Dec. 7, and until further notice, the gathering limit for all outdoor activities will be no more than 25 individuals," Murphy said.

Just last week, the state cut outdoor gathering limits to a 150-person capacity. The limit was previously 500.

The only exceptions to this mandate are religious or political activities, funerals, memorial services, and wedding ceremonies.

Outdoor dining at restaurants is not impacted by this order.

Also, all indoor high school and youth sports will be prohibited from Saturday, Dec. 5 through Jan. 2.

"Effective this Saturday at 6 a.m. Dec. 5, all indoor youth and adult sports including practices and competitions and inclusive of all risk levels set forth by the department of health are being placed on a full and complete pause through Jan. 2, 2021. The only exceptions are for collegiate-level and professional teams," Gov. Phil Murphy said. "We're seeing outbreaks related to indoor sports, and this will help slow the spread."

New Jersey health officials announced 3,199 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, bringing the statewide total to 337,304.

There were also another 15 coronavirus-related deaths. The state's death toll now stands at 15,164.

Rising coronavirus cases are leading to more hospitalizations in New Jersey.

"Our overarching aim is to ensure the stability of our health care system," said Murphy.

Murphy is urging residents to keep their holiday plans small in an effort to stop the spike in COVID-19 cases.

"As you start to make your holiday plans, please recognize that the gathering limits are back to what they were in May and June – when we all came together and crushed the curve as much as any state in the nation," Murphy said. "Keep gatherings as small as possible."

Murphy says the rumors going around about a statewide shutdown are "just that, rumors." However, the state is more focused on targeting specific events and areas leading to COVID-19 outbreaks.

"We're not in the same situation we found ourselves in this spring when we had to take drastic actions to save lives," Murphy said. "Today we see more moves on the board that we can take. We are no less committed or steadfast in our approaches today but we now have more ability to be more focused and surgical. We have much better data and science to draw from now."

On Wednesday, officials plan to provide a deeper dive into the COVID-19 second wave modeling to give residents a better idea of what is going on.

CBS3's Natasha Brown contributed to this report.


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